Clans Are Champions
01 September 1976
CLAN NA GAEL 1-8 MAGHERY 0-7
Match report of the 1976 County Final
Appearing in their first ever Armagh Senior Championship final, Maghery 'handed' the McKillop Cup to unimpressive Clan na Gael and thus the county's premier trophy returns to Francis Street for the seventh time in the past nine years.
Trailing by only one point 0-5 to 0-6 at the interval, Maghery had the advantage of whatever wind there was at the blistering hot packed Athletic Grounds. Within seconds they were on level terms when Dessie Fox sent the ball over the bar, and with this same player and Noel Mackle surprisingly lording it at midfield they should have had a viritable flood of scores in the subsequent play.
Instead they proceded to kick wide after wide, eleven in all, some from straight in front of the posts and accordingly have only themselves to blame for their failure.
For their part Clan na Gael, the cool heads and the experienced ones, had more than gratitude for these misses. Their defence, particularly the full backs, were magnificent and as time wore on it was evident that they were increasingly mastering the inaccurate Maghery attack.
At the other end, Clan na Gael showed how scores should be taken. With only three real chances they scored as many times, but the turning point was undoubtedly the games only goal in the ninth minute of the second half. Terence McCaughey was fouled in a race for possession. Joe Hughes took a quick free to the same player and McCaughley deftly placed Jerome McKenna clear. With Malachy Heaney advancing on him the diminutive winger cooly lobbed the ball over his head and into the empty net.
Though we did not know it yet that score was sufficient to restore Clans as Armagh champions.
Maghery continued to battle hard and their midfield continued to rule the roost, but their forwards had neither the experience nor the ability to get the scores which mattered. Once Joe Fox was presented with a glorious chance for a goal but he passed the ball out in a movement which was tantamount to an effective Clan na Gael clearance. Then Dessie Forker missed when it seemed easier to score. Championships are not won in that fashion.
One of the surprising features of this most recent Clan na Gael victory was that the least bemedalled players were the stars, namely Jim McKerr at left back and Davy Lavery and Joe Hughes on the left wing of the attack.
The big men in the middle of the field, Jimmy Smyth, Oliver Crewe and Colm McKinstry were generally quiet and found it difficult to contend with Bill Devlin, Noel Mackle and Dessie Fox.
Clan na Gael supporters were pleased to note the return to top form of Kevin France. From his right back position he was his old self and underlined this fact with a sortie upfield in the first-half when he ran on to a Terence McCaughley side-line kick and got himself on the scoresheet.
To underline the ineffectiveness of the Maghery forward line, Finbar Fleming had scarcely a direct shot to deal with in the entire course of the game. Jim O'Hagan gave a masterly display at full back especially the second half and with the corner backs, France and McKerr and Sean Lavery formed a steady and reliable defence which grew stronger as the game progressed.
Clan na Gael - Jerome McKenna 1-2, D. Lavery, J. Hughes 0-2 each, K. France and J. Smyth 0-1 each.
Maghery - D. Forker 0-3, D. Fox 0-2, Denny Fox and F. Hanna 0-1 each.
Clan na Gael - F. Fleming, K. France, J. O'Hagan, J. McKerr, K. McKinstry, M. Kavanagh, S. Lavery, 0. Crewe, C. McKinstry, T. McCaughley, J. Smyth, D. Lavery, J. McKenna, N. O'Hagan, J. Hughes. Subs: S. Lavelle for K. McKinstry.
Maghery - M. Heaney, E. Fox, P. Devlin, B. McGeary, A. Devlin, B. Devlin, K. Fox, N. Mackle, D. Fox, F. Hanna, K. Rafferty, D. Fox, C. Rafferty, D. Fox, D. Forker. Subs: S. Lavery for A. Devlin.